Sept. 11 has different meaning in Chile

Sept. 9, 2003 at 8:03 AM
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SANTIAGO, Chile, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Western media are gearing up to commemorate the attacks on the United States of Sept. 11, but the date is significant in Chile for different reasons.

On Sept. 11, 1973, Chilean President Salvador Allende was defiant, refusing to surrender his power despite an onslaught of bombs and bullets that were ripping apart the presidential palace in Santiago.

He killed himself rather than surrender to dictatorial coup forces sponsored in part by the United States, Voice of America reported Tuesday.

The bloody coup that ended Allende's life put General Augusto Pinochet into power, opening a dark chapter in Chile's history. During Pinochet's reign, some 3,000 people "disappeared" and thousands of others were tortured and exiled.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently acknowledged the United States was not "proud" of its role in the coup.

Repeated efforts to have 87-year-old Pinochet stand trial have been unsuccessful, and because of his age and failing health, it is unlikely he will ever have to answer for his reign.

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